Hello and welcome to the B.C. Koekkoek House in Cleves – an upper-class mansion built around the middle of the 19th century by the highly respected landscape painter Barend Cornelis Koekkoek.
At the moment, you’re on the lower ground floor, the servants’ domain back then. You entered the house at ground level, by a door that was part of a doctor’s surgery, added later by a subsequent owner. The current museum shop and the antiquarian bookstore are housed in what used to be the below-stairs utility rooms. The house is built into a hill, so from the piano nobile above you can walk straight out into the garden at the rear of the house.
You probably noticed the tiled walls and the enormous flue in the antiquarian bookshop. That used to be the kitchen, and today, you can enjoy its special atmosphere as you browse through the prints and the old art books.
The tiled floor and the wall tiles, with a scattering of older, decorative Delft tiles, date back to the early 20th century, when a new owner revamped this splendid mansion according to his own personal taste. Take a look at your screen to see a period photograph.
The final room here on the lower ground floor – the visitors’ lobby – was the “Bedientenstube”, the servants’ parlour, in Barend Cornelis Koekkoek’s day. This was where the doorman sat, and where visitors to the house would wait. They’d hand over their visiting cards and warm up in winter, before being allowed up into the magnificent vestibule and the reception rooms on the piano nobile.
The vestibule will be our next stop. To make your way there, please head through the wooden door. We’ll meet again in the impressive stairwell.